Sharif’s Story

Our Stories – Off the streets and back to school

Sharif’s Story

Sharif is now 12 years old. After he was born, his father passed away and his mother left him with his grandmother in a very ramshackle rented room in the Namatala slum in Mbale. Sharif’s grandmother was elderly, blind and was suffering from mental illness. This meant there was no source of income and food.

At the age of 5 years, Sharif would lead his grandmother to the streets of Mbale to beg. He says sometimes they got money and food while some days they went back without anything. When Sharif was 7 years old, his grandmother became too ill to continue begging. So, Sharif had to fend for the family by picking scrap, carrying the luggage of travellers as well as begging, to sustain the family. At times, he was slapped, kicked and insulted by the people he worked for, who didn’t want to pay him and referred to him as a rebellious child.

One morning, while Sharif was on his daily routine begging, Child Restoration Outreach social workers found him during a community survey. He looked pale, malnourished, dirty in rags and with so many sores and wounds all over his body. When Sharif was approached he first got scared and ran away. He says, “I thought the social workers were a group of bad people.”

The social workers continued to visit and build a rapport with him and he became convinced they were good people. After speaking with them he was invited to Child Restoration Outreach day care centre where he bathed, received a cup of porridge and later counselled. Sharif says, “I felt so happy because the social workers looked so friendly and attractive.”

That very day, a home tracing was made by the social workers to confirm and establish more facts about Sharif. Sharif’s welfare was bad and he was immediately taken into the Child Restoration Outreach Programme. He was enrolled in rehabilitation and transitional classes.

Sharif has shown great improvement and most of the street-life habits have been dropped. His self-esteem and confidence has been built and he participates in football, music, dance and drama with other children. Academically, he can now write his name, read the alphabet and short words. He can also count to 50. His favourite game is football and his best subject is mathematics. Sharif’s ambition is to become a pilot so that he can tour other countries.

He now looks smart and healthy. His grandmother has been counselled and encouraged to join self-help groups to improve the family livelihood. She is on medication and follow-ups are made regularly to the home by the social workers.

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Learn more about Street Child Education

Africa Educational Trust and the Child Restoration Outreach project helps address the reasons children end up on the street and give comprehensive support to get them and their families back on their feet.

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